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Nadal vs Djokovic: Australian Open Men's Final Signals End of Roger Federer Era

Austin GreenCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2012

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA - JANUARY 26:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning a point in his semifinal match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during day eleven of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

With Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meeting in their third straight Grand Slam final, the Roger Federer era has officially come to an end.

The 30-year-old still has some good tennis left in him, but his days as a dominant force are over.

For nearly a decade, Federer was the most feared man in his sport. He racked up 16 Grand Slam titles and appeared in 18 of 19 Grand Slam finals from Wimbledon in 2005 to the Australian Open in 2010.

He is one of the most dominant athletes in history, and he gets my vote for best tennis player of all time.

Unfortunately, not even the legendary are immune to Father Time. Federer has lost his aura of immortality, and with Nadal and Djokovic fighting over the throne, there's no more room at the top.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain embrace at the net after their semifinal match during day eleven of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo
Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

Nadal disposed of Federer 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6 to advance to the 2012 Aussie Open final.

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Federer's record against Nadal dropped to 9-18. He's only beaten Nadal once in their last four matches, and he hasn't defeated the Spaniard in a Grand Slam since the 2007 Wimbledon final.

Against Djokovic, Federer hasn't fared much better. He holds a 14-10 career edge, but he's lost four of their last five meetings.

Federer is still capable of beating each of them, but as the third-ranked player in the world, he's at a major disadvantage. He's always going to be on the same side of the bracket as one of them, meaning he'll likely have to slay both in order to win any more major tournaments.

As the 2011 French Open proved, that's a nearly impossible task. After Federer dropped Djokovic in a dramatic semifinal match, he was completely dominated by Nadal in the finals.

Federer has had a dream career, but with Nadal and Djokovic on the rise, we have to face up to reality.

Once upon a time, Federer owned men's tennis. Sadly, that era has ended.

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